My Instagram QnA – You Asked and I Answered.

A week or so back I was inspired by a blog post that an Instagram friend, Gaelyn, had written. It was based on a whole bunch of questions that she had got people to ask her on the app. I told her I loved the idea so much that I was going to steal it, so I did. I had tons of fun with this – it’s been a bit of a slumpy few months in the writing department, and so this was just the creative unblocking I needed. You guys were the perfect writers block laxative 😉

Thank you to everyone who took the time to ask me questions, You guys were all super tame, I don’t know if I’m relived or not!

Let me know if I should do another one of these?

PS – I wasn’t sure who wanted to remain anonymous or not, so I’ve removed everyones names.

How is the weight loss going and how are you staying motivated?

You know the saying ‘a year ago you’ll wish you had started today?‘ Well, that’s kinda me right now. It’s been 6 weeks since a group of us made our #FatttisAndMoanies pact and I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon too many times to count. That being said, the last 2 weeks have been really good in terms of consistency and training. I’ve started doing a bunch of classes at gym, which for me, are so much easier than following apps or plans. I tend to give up if I miss a training day on an app, but with classes it’s just easier to pick up where I left off. I’ve also been training with a friend which really helps to stay motivated and committed. As far as weight goes, I haven’t even lost 100 grams! Nothing is shifting which is really, really demotivating. So, I’ve actually decided that instead of stressing about fitting into my pre baby jeans I actually just went and bought 3 new pairs of bigger jeans to tide me over. Trying to fit into my thin clothes was causing me so much stress that I just want to put them away for a few months and not feel like an octopus in a condom every morning, trying to squeeze into them.

That being said – I am shocked to see how many retailers have inconsistent sizing in their shops – I recently bought 2 pairs of size 12 jeans from Cotton On. the one pair doesn’t even go over my knees and the other pair fits perfectly – something I need to remember when berating myself for being a certain ‘size’.

When are you starting solids and what are you starting with? (Need some solid inspiration)

We are going to try wait until 5 months, like we did with Carter. I’m not going to do any rice cereal as they just have such a bad rap – rather I want to try get her tasting all sorts of flavours and textures from the get go. I haven’t got a set plan in mind but I do want to (where possible) incorporate as much protein into her food as possible, because protein = sleep and well, we could ALL do with more of that around here.

How many adverts have you been “the voice” to on radio?

8 years ago? TONS. Nowadays, I think one ad that’s still doing the rounds in a Dubai IKEA 😉 When I took up photography, and when photography took off, I had to cut the amount of voice over work I did as I just wasn’t able to get to the studio when they needed me. I miss it, but I also had to be realistic.

What is your biggest fear?

How long is your piece of string? I am fearful by nature – everything from car accidents to retiring with no savings. My ‘silly’ fear is spiders and my ‘serious’ fear is something happening to my kids. Drowning, getting hit by a car, leaving a baby in the car seat. Everything! I’m pretty sure all parents feel this way and its true what they say, that as a parent you will never ever stop worrying. I also worry about my place in this country and our financial security and future. Man alive, thanks for the question, now I need a Xanax 😉

What or who inspires you every day?

Seemingly normal and everyday people. Just yesterday a woman I followed on Instagram shared a pic of an interview done on her in which she talks abut being a hot shot lawyer. My socks were knocked off – I had no idea! I am motivated by my friends for following their startup/entrepreneurial/study and travel dreams. I am inspired by the work I do – being a perfectionsit means I can never settle and am constantly striving for excellence. I am inspired by a random lady stepping off a taxi looking like a runway model, or how great someone looks in a messy bun, or the busy mom who still gets up to train every day at 5 am. I don’t really do the self help books or TED talks, rather, I look to my peers and society and use them all as one big Pinterest board.

Im looking at starting my own business. eek. do you have any advice? 

No, I have zero idea what I’m doing 😉 I have been doing my photography on the side for almost 2 years and so the advice I can give is this: Start small and start on the side, like I did. Open up a business bank account and allocate 20% for tax/SARS. Take advantage of platforms out there to help you with your admin (I particularly like Wave as my invoicing platform). Use your connections and gain trust by being reliable, reputable and kind. Don’t underestimate your value either and charge competitive rates. Offer discounts but try not to do too much for free. I had a rule when I started taking photos; The first of anything was free (first wedding, first newborn etc) that way, there’s less pressure but you also get great experience. Learn wherever you can – mentorships, online courses, YouTube tutorials and shadowing. Ask peoples advice and don’t be scared to put yourself out there. Lastly, fake it till you make it and remember that everyone suffers from some sort of ‘imposter syndrome’ and that is totally OK. Good Luck!

I just found out Im pregnant! can I ask you all the baby questions as i go?! 

Yay! Congratulations! And yes, absolutely, but my answer to the hard questions will probably be something along the lines of ‘have a glass of wine and don’t sweat the small stuff’ 😉 Kidding. Kinda.

Who did your micrblading? They are so perfect 

Firstly, thank you 😉 Secondly, what makes you think they’re not natural? Thirdly, who am I kidding, I have awful features. I had mine done by a lady called Melanie at a place in Clearwater mall. I’ve just tried to find her on Instagram but it seems she’s no longer on it… and I cant remember the shop name either. That being said, I’m pretty sure if you ask around you can get some great referrals for other brow artists. PS – I went a shade darker which means my hair grows blonde over them, and it looks a bit odd. I still tint my eyebrows once every 6 weeks and use a brow pencil (‘Brow This Way’ from Rimmel) to touch up the dodgy patchy bits.

Bedtime routine for two tots 

What is this routine you talk of? My once angelic boy now pulls out all the nightly stops to avoid actually getting into bed at the prescribed time. That being said, amidst the madness we do sometimes have moments of luck, so our typical night/bedtime routine goes like this:

Carter gets home from school at 5/5:30 and we play, chat catchup a bit. He then eats supper between 5;30 and 6:30 depending on his hunger levels. If we are both at home one parent will sit with Carter while the other carries Piper (because her royal highness will not be put down during suicide hour). My hubby always does the evening bath time at 5:45 with Piper. Either Carter will bath with her or shower with Barry later. Barry will give Piper her bottle at 6 and she’s asleep (again, not always successfully) by 6:10. If Carter is still in the bath while Piper is having her bottle, and only one parent is home, then we have a rule whereby we call out to him every 5 minutes and he has to answer, otherwise he’s not allowed to bath alone again. Carter’s bathed/showered and in his pyjamas by 6:30 and then he is allowed half an hour of TV before bed. Some nights we build puzzles or draw but 5/7 times he gets TV. I think our strict TV rule has worked well as its such a novelty for him that it keeps him occupied for 30 minutes and allows us to prep dinner, pop Pipers dummy back in 87 times or just sort out lunches for the next day. At 7 pm the TV magically turns off (thank you iPhone remote!) and Carter is then given the option of 10 more minutes of TV or a story in bed. The story usually wins and – if he’s not being a threenager – he’s in bed and sleeping by 7:30. We went through a massive wobbly when he was about 2.5 and his bedtime routine is only coming right now (thanks to spanking, bribing, shouting, crying, timeout, toy confiscation and wine).

How do you juggle marriage, motherhood, your career and still manage to go to gym? 

I have a spouse who carries 50% of the parenting load, for which I’m so grateful. He’s very big on us each getting our own time off to train and so we usually alternate mornings or evenings. So, one of us will go to gym in the morning leaving the other to dress the kid for school (ha sucker!) and then the other one gets to gym after work or go for a run in the evening. That being said, the arrival of baby 2 totally threw this off kilter as shit got super busy. Hard core training like Iron Man stuff has completely fallen by the wayside, which is OK, I mean, who really has time to train for several hours a day? We have both slacked in the exercise department, but I am now fortunate enough to leave Piper with the nanny for an hour, once Carters been dropped at school at 7:30, and head to gym. Barry’s started running a lot more and we have a stationary bike and treadmill in our dining room. When Piper is a bit older and we don’t need to split the bath time and feeding routine I like to think we will get back into a proper groove. As for marriage, I’ve always said that it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I think we both had a really big wakeup call a few months ago and so we are taking the time to be kinder with each other and go on a few date nights. It’s a work in progress but just these small changes have made us a stronger team. As for career – it’s tough for everyone – but we share calendars and can always see when the other person has a shoot/meeting/function so we can plan accordingly. It’s not perfect, but it helps.

Remember the day you, Lucy and I were counting microscopic ferns? Now you have Carter and Piper 

So, this wasn’t really a question as much a statement, but I loved it so much that I decided to include it. (thanks for the fun reminder, Zee!) The back story – I was told that I would battle to have kids, and me being me, I went into panic and planning mode. I bought this little lipstick sized ovulation microscope online that – when ovulating – showed up as teeny tiny fern like shapes. Well, I brought it to work the one day and the entire office had a go at seeing their saliva under the microscope. Imagine my surprise when it was my turn and BOOM! There were hundreds of fat ferns. Needless to say, Carter was born 10 months later. PS – it’s clearly a lucky charm as the three friends I lent it to afterwards all fell pregnant.

Why are you so hard on yourself? I ask because your honesty and humour when dealing with life is so relatable.I think you’re doing an amazing job

I have, for as long as I can remember, used sarcasm to hide my insecurities. I feel like I have always been the ‘good enough’ girl. good enough looking, good enough at school, good enough at sports. Nothing ever really defined me, and so I used wit to give myself an identity. So I guess what you see by me being hard on myself, is the only me that I know. Plus, aren’t we all? As much as I know that social media is almost entirely fake, where people only show their greatest and most joyful moments, it also makes me incredibly insecure, and so I swore that I would ever not be authentic on the platforms I’m on. So I show the good, the bad and the ugly – and as much as I want to – I don’t even use on of those face filter apps to make me look like I’m not mid-thirties with 2 kids 😉 But I promise I’ll try to be gentler on myself (after I’ve lost the 20 kilogram and had a boob job). kidding!

Why did you leave radio? 

I am a verbal person, and have always spoken my mind. Working in radio began to feel a bit too scripted for me – I didn’t feel as if I had an opinion or was actually making a difference. It was also the first job I had ever had and as much as I loved it – I still miss it – I wanted to see what else I could do with my life. I was worried that I would never grow in a professional sense and the corporate world seemed quite exciting. Even though I left commercial radio, I feel like my blog and my photography has allowed me to still be creative and express my feelings.

Tips for breastfeeding/sleeping through the night 

I’m not sure if you mean getting baby to sleep through the night, or mom being able to sleep after she’s woken for a feed, so I’ll give this answer my best shot:

Firstly, I chose to stop breastfeeding at 2.5 months. I battled in public and it was leading to massive weight gain (for me, not her ;)) However, when I was breastfeeding I would express, alot. Which meant Barry could do feeds and I could sleep, and visa versa. This allowed us both to get to atleast 5/6 hours stretches. I am also 100% routine mom and so from day 4 we tried to get Piper on a day and night feeding routine. I would limit her time on the boobs so she didn’t get lazy which meant she knew that at feed time, it was time to chow! We also didn’t feed in between her 3 hour sessions, unless it was an emergency. It’s worked for us and we know (sort of) what to expect.That being said, my darling daughter does not sleep though the night, and between her and Carters new-found night terrors, I feel like no one in my house will ever sleep again 😉

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{Interview} Devin Lester. Dad, Photographer and Capturer of Magic.

I am so excited to have my very first interview from my still-un-named interview series up today. Also, it would seem I need a name for this series if it’s going to become ‘a thing’. I was thinking ‘The Finger” (because I’m gonna probe you real deep) but that’ pretty disgusting, right?

Any name ideas?

Anyways, my first interview is a really cool one. Its with career-man turned professional-photographer Devin Lester. I have know Devin for many many years and can honestly say he is one of life’s nicest and most genuine guys. He even photographed Carters newborn shoot (under much stress from his side I’m sure, because I kept telling him to ‘make me look thin’ and ‘hide my double chin’!) Poor guy.

This interview was also slightly selfishly motivated. I have always wanted to get in to photography, and watching Devins success and beautiful images over the last two years has really re-ignited my passion – so for me this was also the perfect opportunity to pick his brain a bit.

{RA} Tell me a bit about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, and what makes you tick?

{DL} My name is Devin and I have a beautiful family…my wife, Megan and I will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary early next year and we have two beautiful children, Paige and Matthew.
I have a few too many weaknesses including wine, whisky, coffee and gadgets! Getting to ride my bike everyday & skip the crazy Joburg traffic is a definite plus!
Photo 2016-05-20, 15 05 12
The lesser spotted man behind the lens, Devin

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

{RA} What made you want to get into photography?
{DL} I’ve enjoyed taking pictures since I was really young. In those days it was a terrible point-and-shoot film camera – the kind where you’d snap a photo of the lion you spotted in the Kruger Park but then have to convince friends that there really was a lion there when you couldn’t actually see anything on the film you developed.
When I got my first digital camera (a compact little Sony point-and-shoot) I started learning about all the cool new features and practicing various techniques. This habit continued as I kept upgrading my kit to a Panasonic superzoom and then to an entry level Canon DSLR. With each new gadget I’d be really keen to learn about what it was capable of and what I could do with it. I practiced A.L.O.T.
I’d pretty much always be carrying a camera around and enjoyed being able to look back at the good times captured (especially since in those days you pretty much had to print photos because your Nokia 3210 screen wasn’t exactly a spectrum of vibrant colours).
My initial move to take my hobby more seriously came about so that I could justify spending more money on fancier gear. Not particularly romantic but I didn’t really expect it to take off in the way it has either.
I enjoy being able to create beautiful images for people! Taking these images requires some know how, some decent gear and also time and while people would really love to take these themselves they aren’t always able to invest the time (or money) into it.
I’ve also realized that photography gives me an opportunity to meet interesting new people and go to places I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
DLP Maternity couple
DLP Maternity 3
{RA} What is your main day job and how do you fit in photography while working an 8 to 5?
{DL} I work as an associate actuary at a reinsurer in Johannesburg. I’m responsible for the capital modeling for their life insurance treaties. Definition of a desk job! The company is great and was flexible enough to accept my request earlier this year to move to a 4-day work week so I could dedicate more time to my photography and try catch up on some family time.
I spend many evenings working late into the night to do my editing and admin. It’s not conducive to getting up early to get to the gym!
{RA} How do you juggle being a family man and all the weekend and after-hours work that photography brings on?
{DL}I think when I started out 2 years ago it was pretty manageable. I’d have a couple of shoots a month so it was easy to keep on top of things.
Now with the number of bookings coming in it’s proving much more difficult. I have a very understanding and patient wife! I’ve recently brought in an accountant as well as an editor to help spread the workload and regain some balance.
{RA}You started off as mainly a newborn photographer. Recently you’ve moved into lifestyle, portraiture and now weddings. Why the move?
{DL} Actually, initially I was too scared to take on newborn shoots J I figured newborn shoots were second-only to weddings in terms of “Don’t f&^* this up”. So I’d started with maternity shoots, parties and families.
Only once I felt I could a newborn shoot justice (watching & reading many tutorials) and had a client who was willing to take me on did I start down the newborn route. Most importantly there are safety precautions that need to be followed and also some special Photoshop skills can come in handy too. Even though newborn shoots can seem quite chaotic I enjoy the challenges they present and nailing a tricky pose makes it all worth it!
Similarly with weddings there was no way I wanted to take a wedding booking without being confident I could deliver a polished product. I first attended a workshop run by the brilliant Ett Venter, put together a styled shoot with another photographer and have assisted / second shot a few weddings now. I’m really looking forward to my first ‘solo’ weddings in October and December.
DLP Wedding 1
DLP Wedding 2
DLP Wedding 3
{RA} Take me through one of your worst shoots
{DL} Well I once arrived at a shoot with no memory cards whatsoever. I’d taken the card out of the camera and my extra cards were sitting on my desk too. And this shoot was 40km from home. Luckily my clients were running rather late so I rushed down the road to an electronics store and was able to pick up a spare at the last moment. Needless to say, I double check these things now!
{RA} Let’s talk newborn shoots – who are the hardest to photograph, the baby or the parents?
{DL} Haha, I guess the baby since they aren’t really interested in following instructions…and there’s the ever present dangers involved once the nappy comes off (although I have been quite lucky in this regard)  😉
DLP Newborn Kate 3
DLP Newborn 4
DLP Newborn 3
DLP My first newborn shoot
 
{RA} What advice do you have for someone wanting to start out in the industry?
{DL} Just keep learning – there are so many great resources out there from Youtube videos, online tutorials, helpful Facebook groups and workshops run by talented local and international photographers. And carry your camera with you on weekend outings – knowing what settings to use and being able to change them quickly needs to become second nature.

{RA} Have you ever lost anyone’s images after a shoot? And if so, what happened?

{DL} No! Thank goodness. Immediately following a shoot I backup the images. I have, however, had to re-deliver images to a client who had lost hers but since I never delete old shoots this wasn’t an issue.
{RA} How would you describe your style / what do you hope to capture?
{DL} I try to produce the kind of images that my clients want to print and frame on their wall. And, of course, capturing emotion is something most photographers strive for. Grabbing that special moment between a couple or a shared laugh between a parent and child is priceless! Natural light can be used to great effect but I also love bringing in extra lighting for a subtle effect or sometimes not so subtle WOW factor!
DLP Family 3
DLP Maternity 1
DLP Maternity 2
DLP Family 2

{RA} Who or what would be your dream subject to shoot?

{DL} I love photographing my own kids (yes, cheesy) but the pressure is off, I can try things out and they’re surprisingly patient for a 3 year old and 6 year old.
Then I hope to be able to shoot some amazing and beautiful weddings for my clients…and have fun doing it!
Devin with wife Megan and children Paige and Matthew... I can understand why they are his favourite subjects!
Devin with wife Megan and children Paige and Matthew… I can understand why they are his favourite subjects!
and lastly…
{RA} What would be the first thing you’d buy if you won the lottery, for:
 Yourself: {DL} A new car, mine has just done 100,000km
 Your business: {DL} Hmmm, a studio would be nice
 Your family: {DL} An overseas holiday and house by the sea wouldn’t hurt!
 A charity: {DL} Something sustainable like a bursary scheme
DLP Family 1 (my first newborn client 1 yr later)
DLP Newborn 1
DLP Newborn 2
Im really please I decided to ask Devin about photography, rather than his day-job. I still have zero idea what ‘capital modeling’ is. Sounds like something you make with plasticine. Good thing we have other interests in common, like photography and wine…and coffee…and gadgets.
Thanks again, Devin, for agreeing to be my first interviewee! If you would like to find out more about Devin Lester Photography you can find him on his website, on Facebook or on Instagram. Tell him I sent you!
If you would like to be interview on Rupert Approves, or know of someone who you think would be great – leave a comment or pop me a mail.
Photo 2016-07-20, 22 42 22
Photo credit: Alon Cohen
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The Interesting Interview Series.

I was driving to work this morning and scrolling through Facebook (naughty, I know). Apart from the usual rubbish that fills my newsfeed – cat videos, food videos, videos of videos – there were also a couple of really awesome posts. Someone I know is going back to gym after a 6-month hiatus (been there!), someone else was posting their professional photos of their latest shoot, and someone was commenting on how much they love Mondays ever since deciding to quit the corporate world and start their own business. Basically, there are rad, interesting, inspiring people all over who are doing amazing things with their life.

With that in mind, and because I recently had my very own Oprah ‘aha’moment, where I realised what I wanted to do with my life (well part time atleast), I’ve decided to start a weekly series where I interview and chat to inspiring people.

So, if you know of anyone – or think you could fit the profile – please let me know. It could be someone who quit the 8-5 and became a professional dog walker, someone who lost a lot of weight and started a new health journey, someone who ran their first race after leading a sedentary life, someone who took up a hobby and made money off of it, someone who has left the country and is trying to make a new life for themselves, a single mom rocking it or someone who has a fascinating career. It could be anyone!

Please pop me a comment below and let me know who you think I should chat to, and why.

PS – You may or may not have noticed, but I recently migrated (and almost broke) my blog in the process. What this means is that for several months there wasn’t a ‘Follow’ option on the new site. I’ve kinda, sort of maybe managed to fix it, so please do me a favour and re-follow Rupert Approves. You will need to do this even if you were a previous subscriber. Following means you never miss a post, posts are delivered fresh to your inbox, plus you’ll give me a bit of street cred in the process. You’ll see the ‘Follow‘ box on the home page and next to all posts.

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